For Immediate Release
For Immediate ReleaseAugust 12, 2004
With Hurricane Season in Full Swing, Customers Urged to Prepare
Pepco is monitoring the progress of two storms-Bonnie and Charley-- approaching the U.S. mainland and urging customers to prepare for the possibility these storms could bring torrential rains and winds to the Washington metropolitan area this weekend.
Heavy weather can cause flooding and widespread power outages, said Mike Maxwell, Vice President of Emergency Preparedness for Pepco. "With the soil as saturated as it is now, and the tree foliage as full as it is, it's possible that heavy rains and wind could cause trees and limbs to come down across our lines and cause service interruptions. Even though the storms may lose some strength before it reaches us, there still may be outages."
Pepco employees have been drilling in recent weeks in preparation for a busy hurricane season, and the company wants to remind customers that they too should take steps to prepare for the possibility that a storm could leave them temporarily without service.
PREPARATION With the first of these weather systems expected Friday, Pepco is urging customers to prepare for the potential of power outages. Customers should have emergency preparedness kits in order, and they should consider and review any contingency plans for evacuation in case it becomes necessary. An emergency kit should include a flashlight, a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries, spare batteries, non-perishable and canned food, a manual can opener, a supply of fresh water for several days, a first-aid kit, essential medications for those who use prescriptions, diapers and wipes if necessary, pillows and blankets or sleeping bags. A cooler is also useful for preserving certain medicines and perishable foods. Pepco's Web site has useful information on emergency preparedness including two videos and a brochure, "Weathering the Storm." Go to www.pepco.com, and click on Storm Center.
SPECIAL NEEDS CUSTOMERS Pepco reminds customers who depend on electricity for life support that they should have back-up plans to use in the event of lengthy power outages. Pepco also reminds critical public service facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, to make sure any private power generators are fueled and in good working order, and that they review their contingency plans to implement in an emergency.
SAFETY Pepco strongly encourages customers to make safety a priority. Stay away from downed lines. All lines should be treated as if they are energized. And individuals should not approach them or touch them. If citizens see a downed wire they should call Pepco or local authorities and report it. Keep away from flooded areas and stay indoors. Remember, electricity and water is a dangerous combination. Even wading in a shallow puddle or flooded basement that is exposed to an energized line could cause a harmful or fatal electrical contact. Become familiar with evacuation routes and heed authorities if there is an evacuation order.
GENERATORS Customers who use back-up electrical generators to feed their homes directly in the event of a power outage should arrange for a licensed electrician to connect the generator in such a way that it will not feed back into the utility system. Pepco wants to prevent generators from inadvertently feeding back into the system and posing a risk to our employees who are working on the system and to any customers who may be exposed to downed lines. Back-up portable generators should be run outdoors. Pepco recommends that, if possible, appliances be connected directly to small portable generators by an extension cord rather than through home wiring. Customers should consult the generator's instruction manual for proper installation, operation and maintenance. The installation should be inspected by a qualified electrician.
OUTAGE REPORTING Pepco asks all customers to call and report outages on the company's automated phone reporting system. This automated system enables us to more quickly locate the cause of the outage and direct repairs in an efficient and orderly process. If power has been restored elsewhere in the neighborhood but not to the customer`s home, the customer should call and report the outage again, as there may be a secondary problem in the neighborhood.
Customers can report an outage or downed wire by calling 1-877-PEPCO-62.
PRIORITIES Pepco follows a disciplined approach to handling major outages and prepares year-round for emergencies. When emergencies occur, Pepco first assesses the damage then restores service. Throughout such events, public and employee safety always is the top priority. While Pepco tries to minimize inconvenience to individual customers, its first priority is to eliminate life-threatening conditions such as downed wires. It will then proceed to restore service to critical public services, such as hospitals, police, fire, communications, water and sewer and transportation services. The next priority is to make repairs that can restore service to the largest groups of customers at one time by working through the high-voltage transmission system and the main distribution lines. Crews then will focus on repairs that affect secondary distribution lines and service lines that feed individual homes and businesses. The concept is similar to clearing roads after a snowstorm. The main thoroughfares must be cleared before the secondary streets. Similarly, Pepco cannot restore service to individual customers until it first repairs higher-voltage transmission and primary distribution lines to transport electricity from the power plants and electric substations.
APPLIANCES Customers whose power has been interrupted are asked to turn off all major appliances such as electric water heaters and air conditioners, stoves and electric washers and dryers. (Leave on one light so you will know when power has been restored.) This will help prevent potential temporary overloads when power is restored. After electric service is restored, Pepco asks customers to turn their appliances back on one-at-a-time to further help reduce the chance of overloading the system. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to help prevent or minimize food spoilage. Customers with appliances at imminent risk of being affected by flooding should shut off the gas and electric supply to the equipment. This would include appliances such as heaters or water heaters and clothes dryers.
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About Pepco: Pepco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), provides electricity transmission and distribution services to 725,000 customers in the District of Columbia and major portions of Prince George`s and Montgomery County in Maryland.
Point of Contact:Robert Dobkin